Our History

Stanford GSB has established itself as a global leader in management education through educational programs designed to develop insightful, principled global leaders.

Since its creation in 1925 as a west coast alternative to eastern business schools, the school has continued to innovate its curriculum, build a legendary faculty known for its cutting-edge research, and establish centers and academic programs to achieve its mission. As the school continues to flourish, we will strive to remain at the forefront of management education.

Significant Events in Stanford GSB’s History

1925 – 1930​
1925 Following a gathering of business leaders at the Bohemian Grove convened by Stanford alumnus and future U.S. President Herbert Hoover, the Stanford Graduate School of Business is established. The aim of the school is to halt the trend of bright business students going east for a degree and never returning. Willard Hotchkiss, first dean of Stanford GSB, arrives in July. The School opens its doors on October 1.
1927 First two MBAs awarded to Charles Harold Overfelt and Melvin Stephen Sanguinetti, sole members of the first graduating class.
1930 Gertrude Benedict and Helen Carpenter are the first women graduates of Stanford GSB.
1931 – 1940
1931 Jacob Hugh Jackson becomes the second dean of the business school, a position he will hold until 1956. Students establish the Business School Club, which sponsors a weekly 50-cent dinner and guest speaker program for students and faculty. First GSB PhD awarded to Harrison Val Hoyt.
1933 The GSB Library opens with 7,000 books. Business School Club members donate $200 for a fund to support needy students with small loans. By 1940, the fund grew to $4,537.
1937 The school moves from Jordan Hall to new quarters in the History Corner of the Quad.
1939 Professor Paul Holden completes the first survey of business school alumni.
​1941 – 1950
1941 World War II affects the school as MBA enrollments dip. As special war emergency measures, degrees are offered in industrial administration and in business administration. By 1944, the U.S. Office of Education also sponsors a course focused on wartime economics and the war industries.
1946 Students flood back from World War II. A housing shortage and an increase in married students changes student living patterns. The Stanford Business School Alumni Association (known as the Stanford GSB Alumni Association today) is organized to bring together the 700 graduates the school has in 1946. The association holds its first postwar annual dinner in July 1946.
1948 With servicemen and women returning in droves, the employment picture for the class of 1948 is rosier than at any time in the school’s history.
​1951 – 1960
1952 The Executive Development Program offers its first classes to business managers. It will become known as Executive Education in a few years.
1954 The University Board of Trustees approves creating the Stanford Business School Fund. Business school faculty help rehabilitate the School of Administration in Manila after the end of World War II.
1956 Dean J. Hugh Jackson retires after 25 years, succeeded by Acting Dean Carlton A. Pederson. The school’s library is named the Jackson Library in his honor. Willard Eugene Hotchkiss, first Dean of Stanford GSB, dies as a result of an automobile crash near Salinas, CA.
1957 The Sloan Program (renamed the Stanford MSx Program in 2013) is founded under a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
1958 Ernest C. Arbuckle becomes third dean, and puts the school on the road toward recognition as one of the nation’s best.
1959 Dean Arbuckle creates the school’s Advisory Council. Two major documents on business education, the Gordon-Howell Report (co-authored by James Howell) and the Pierson Report, suggest a new, more academically rigorous direction for business education in America, and influence the growth of the school.
​1961 – 1970
1961 To help train faculty members from business schools in emerging countries, the ICAME program is established under a grant from the Ford Foundation. By 1967 the program has 214 students representing 63 universities in 25 countries.
1962 Death of J. Hugh Jackson, longest serving dean in the school’s history.
1963 Under a U.S. State Department initiative, the ESAN program is founded, directed by Gail Oxley, to create a school of business in Peru. A project is set up through ESAN, the business school, and the Peace Corps to train recent MBA graduates and send them to Columbia and Peru. Class of 1965 applicants soar to 976, representing greater geographic diversity. Faculty teach summer courses in Paris, Rome, and Frankfurt.
1966 The business school dedicates its new building (later named GSB South), and moves out of the Quad. Stanford GSB and the Stanford Law School launch a joint degree program. 
1967 The Stanford Business School Trust is established with $85,000 in pledges and gifts.
1968 Ernest C. Arbuckle steps down as dean, establishing a tradition of decade-long tenures by famous saying it’s time to “repot.” He is succeeded by Acting Dean Pete Pond. That year, Arbuckle is the first recipient of the Arbuckle Award for leadership, created by the business school’s Alumni Association. Under a grant from the Ford Foundation, the school creates management education programs in Yugoslavia for executives and educators. A committee on minorities chaired by Professor Gail Oxley recommends that the school include material on racial and urban problems in courses and increase its recruiting of disadvantaged students.
1969 Arjay Miller becomes fourth dean. A volunteer student group called the Business Development Association helps more than 100 small businesses, including several minority-owned businesses in East Palo Alto. The class of 1969 dwindles to 252 students as the Vietnam War rages on. Twenty-seven students leave school to enlist and avoid being drafted.
1970 By a margin of 3 to 1, business school students approve a three-day strike to protest U.S. troops in Cambodia. Stanford President Kenneth Pitzer orders the University closed on May 8 as a cooling-off period. With nine other U.S. business schools, Stanford forms a council to encourage increased minority enrollment. At the business school, enrollment of minority students increases from 4 in 1968 to 37 in 1970.
​1971 – 1980
1971 Computers become available for student use. Under the leadership of Arjay Miller, an MBA Program is launched to prepare students for careers in government and other nonprofit organizations. It will become known as the Public Management Program.
1972 The number of women students continues to grow — 34 are enrolled in the Class of 1974 (in contrast, there were two in the Class of 1964.) The Student Association earmarks 20 percent of its revenue to establish fellowships for minority students.
1974 MBA applications increase 25 percent: 16 percent of the enrolled students are international and 20 percent are women.
1977 The first of the View From The Top ​speaker series is held, featuring Ron Daniels, CEO of McKinsey & Company.
1978 The university purchases a DEC System 20 computer.
1979 Arjay Miller retires in June. He is succeeded by Acting Dean Robert Jaedicke.
1980 Rene McPherson is named fifth dean. McPherson, who had been in a serious auto accident in 1979, resigns as dean in 1982. Stanford GSB acknowledges its athletic champions.
​1981 – 1990
1982 Robert Jaedicke is named sixth dean of the business school. The ‘Pillars of Hercules’ sculpture is installed in front of the school.
1983 George Leland Bach, a key figure in building the quality of the school’s faculty, retires. Three courses in entrepreneurship are offered at the school. The Spring Fling continues as one of the most lighthearted and enduring business school traditions.
1984 The school offers two elective courses designed around microcomputers. A computer-driven course-bidding system for students, known as “Le Grande,” is introduced. A donation from Edmund W. Littlefield launches a fund drive for a new business school building. Joanne Martin becomes first tenured female faculty member. The first Challenge for Charity is held.
1986 Former Dean Ernest C. Arbuckle and wife, Kitty, are killed in an auto accident in Monterey, CA.
1987 The Challenge for Charity raises $30,000 for Special Olympics. MBA alumnae Debbie Pine and Alison Elliott create the Alumni Consulting Team (ACT) to provide pro bono consulting for nonprofits. A loan forgiveness program is created for MBA graduates working in the nonprofit sector. Fifty MBA students take a study tour of Japan.
1988 The Littlefield Management Center, built to house a growing faculty, is dedicated.
1989 The 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake damages school buildings; the library is especially hard hit.
1990 A. Michael Spence becomes seventh dean of the business school as a sagging economy causes a budget squeeze at the University. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev visits the Stanford campus and the business school. William F. Sharpe becomes the first at the business school to win the Nobel Prize. Charles T. Horngren, Edmund W. Littlefield Professor of Accounting, is inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame. Stanford GSB begins a program to support student-initiated and student-led global study trips.
​1991 – 2000
1991 Jackson Library, closed since the 1989 earthquake, reopens after a retrofit. The schools of business and engineering combine to launch a doctoral program to educate professors of manufacturing. In a new joint business and engineering course, Integrated Design for Manufacturing and Marketability, teams of students from both schools work together in a product design and marketing project. I Have a Dream program founded. The MBA Class of 1993 has five Corporate Executive Fellows.
1992 I Have a Dream program adopts an East Palo Alto School. The Rosenberg Corporate Research Center is dedicated in Jackson Library, a gift of Claude (MBA ’52) and Louise Rosenberg.
1994 The Global Management Program is created. Doris McNamara starts a fund to support programs for women at the business school. Some 250 attend the school’s first annual conference for women. Mike Smith brought the AIDS quilt home to the business school in 1994, where three panels were displayed in the library during AIDS Awareness Week. Steve Smith, MBA ’87, is on-board for the space shuttle Endeavour launch on August 18, 1994. George Leland Bach, a leading faculty figure in the rise of the Stanford GSB to national prominence, dies at the age of 79.
1995 A fund is launched to build a complex that will house executives and MBA students; two years later the Schwab Residential Center is dedicated. Eight first-year MBA students bring special strength to this year’s Challenge for Charity team.
1996 A new MBA research scholar program, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, is created to promote student involvement in faculty research.

The first Bonini Fellows, named for Charles Bonini, arrive at the business school.

African American PhD student Michael Clement provides much of the inspiration for the PhD Project, a nationwide program to encourage targeted minorities to enter business school doctoral programs.

Former Dean Rene McPherson dies in North Key Largo, Florida at age 71.

1997 Emeritus Professor Myron Scholes becomes the second at the business school to win the Nobel Prize. More than 300 attend the school’s first Entrepreneurship Conference. The Schwab Residential Center opens.
1998 Michael Spence announces he will step down as dean.
1999 Robert Joss is named eighth dean of the school and moves into his office in the recently opened Knight Building, named for alumnus Philip H. Knight (MBA ’62), which adds 20,000 square feet of space to the three-building business school complex. With the support of $20 million in donations, the new Center for Electronic Business and Commerce is founded.
2000 The school celebrates its 75th anniversary with a gala event at which Professor Charles Horngren and others are honored. More than 1,100 alumni and faculty attend a forum on the role of research, at which research in areas such as game theory and “soft” aspects of corporate governance are discussed.

Center for Social Innovation (CSI) is created, and holds its first Corporate Philanthropy workshop. The center also launches Founders Forums, three groups of alumni entrepreneurs who get together for monthly discussions about the similar challenges they face in their businesses.

2001 – 2010
2001 Michael Spence (Philip H. Knight Professor, Emeritus, and Former Dean) becomes the third professor at the school to win the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Stanford GSB and National Arts Stabilization announce creation of the Nonprofit Arts Management Executive Education Program.

2003 Executive Education Program for NFL Leaders is offered for the first time. Corporate Governance Program is offered to executives for the first time. Retired professor James March translates part of his Organizational Leadership into a lecture-length film.
2004 Center for Global Business and the Economy is created; the organization includes the Global Management Program, launched in 1994. The first Global Business, Global Poverty Conference is sponsored by the Center for Global Business and the Economy with speakers including business executives, government leaders, academics, and leaders of nonprofits.
2005 The business school hosts its largest student conference with nearly 1,600 members of the national organization Net Impact attending. Keynote speaker was former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. The Stanford Global Supply Chain Forum celebrates its 10th anniversary.
2006 A new MBA core curriculum is adopted, effective Fall 2007, following recommendations from an 11-member committee headed by Professor Garth Saloner.

In August, 2006, NIKE Inc. founder and chairman Philip H. Knight, MBA ’62, presents the business school with what, at the time, was the largest gift ever given to a business school, $105 million. The majority of the gift — $100 million — is earmarked to construct a new $275 million campus for the business school. Center for Entrepreneurial Studies celebrates its 10th anniversary.

2008 The Stanford Graduate School of Business formally breaks ground on its new business school campus. Designed to fulfill the academic needs of the school’s new MBA curriculum and other programs, the 360,000-square-foot campus will be named the Knight Management Center. The library celebrates its 75th anniversary.
2009 Garth Saloner, a scholar of entrepreneurship and business strategy and major architect of the curriculum revision, is named ninth dean.
2011 – Present
2011 The business school relocates to the new Knight Management Center. The Public Management Program celebrates its 40th anniversary, with founder and former Dean Arjay Miller in attendance. The Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) was founded in November 2011, the result of an extraordinary gift from Stanford alumnus Robert King (MBA ’60) and his wife Dorothy. Jackson Library is renamed Stanford GSB Library.
2013 An Evening with Five Deans” event organized by Stanford GSB Library; all five living Stanford GSB Deans attend (Miller, Jaedicke, Spence, Joss, and Saloner).

Stanford Sloan Program changes its name to Stanford Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders (Stanford MSx). The Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) launches first regional innovation center in Africa (Ghana).

Stanford Ignite program begins, for formulating and commercializing ideas.

2015 Stanford GSB celebrates 90th anniversary during alumni reunions, with a presentation and panel discussion in Cemex Auditorium covering nine decades of Stanford GSB history.
2016 Economist Jonathan Levin, former chair of the Stanford Department of Economics and a renowned expert in the field of industrial organization, is named tenth dean.

Highland Hall, a new four-story residential housing structure opens. The new building sits adjacent to Schwab Residential Center, and has 202 new single-living units, allowing nearly all first-year Stanford GSB students a place to live on campus for the first time.


For the first time, two women, Maureen McNichols and Sarah Soule, serve simultaneously as Senior Associate Deans for Academic Affairs.

Former Dean Arjay Miller dies at his home in Woodside, CA at the age of 101.


Beloved professor John G. “Jack” McDonald dies at the age of 80 after teaching his popular investment class for 50 straight years. In his honor, Highland Hall is renamed Jack McDonald Hall.


In his honor, the David M. Kreps Symposia are instituted, to bring to campus outstanding scholars to discuss a topic of current interest relating to management research or education.

Stanford GSB Milestones: A History of Progress and Innovation
Stanford GSB Milestones
This slideshow highlights the milestones in the history of Stanford Graduate School of Business from 1925 to 2016.
MSx Timeline
Stanford MSx Program Timeline
Take a quick look back at the history of the Stanford MSx Program.